REDMOND, Wash. -- Nearly two years since the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Lake Washington School District is seeing its focus on school safety pay off with many security features now in full operation.
Rose Hill Middle School in Redmond was still under construction when the news of Sandy Hook caught the attention of educators across the United States. That day, Rose Hill changed the blueprint to beef up security. The changes give Principal Erin Bowser peace of mind as she prepares to welcome some 750 students back to the new and improved school.
"It is the most secure school I've ever worked in," Bowser said.
The school officially opened last year, but just now, it is seeing many security improvements. Safety starts with the front door next to the office window of an armed Redmond police officer. Inside, an interior wall with a second round of doors was added to construction plans the day of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
"We are able to lock this part off whenever we decide that we need to, but we do it every morning after our students are in," explained Bowser while she gave KING 5 a tour of the building.
Before making it to individual classrooms, sections of the building are broken into what are called pods that can be locked down. Throughout the school, buttons connected to a two-way intercom system allow teachers to quickly connect and communicate with the main office.
Outside, a recess area is closed off with a modern, hard-to-climb fence and door that is locked from the outside. Even with the security features, Bowser says a building can only do so much. School leaders say safety drills and education are the rest of the equation in putting safety first.
As the Lake Washington School District finds ways to free up money, other schools -- young and old -- will receive security enhancements, including security cameras and card-swipe entry technology.
Dr. Mary Schoenfeldt with the Everett Office of Emergency Management discusses security and safety at schools. KING